Extension until July 1, 2018 for Call for Papers: Farmer Innovations and Best Practices by Shifting Cultivators in Asia-Pacific

An early draft of the front cover design for the next volume on shifting cultivation in Asia-Pacific

Exciting news for those of you who still wish to contribute their unique findings on farmer innovations and best practices in swidden systems: The deadline for submitting papers to be published in the volume “Farmer Innovations and Best Practices by Shifting Cultivators in Asia-Pacific” has been extended to July 1, 2018.

A trilogy of books has been designed as a sequel to the highly-acclaimed publication Voices from the Forest: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge into Sustainable Upland Farming” (RFF Press, 2007) that brought scientific attention to indigenous innovations in improved fallow management.

The first volume of the trilogy is advertised online at https://www.amazon.com/Shifting-Cultivation-Environmental-Change-Conservation/dp/ and the second (Shifting Cultivation Policies: Balancing Environmental and Social Sustainability) was published in late 2017 and can be found at https://www.cabi.org/bookshop/book/9781786391797.

A third and final volume, edited by Malcolm F. Cairns and with the continued assistance of Bob Hill and Tossaporn Kurupunya, will explore the ways in which today’s shifting cultivators are innovating and adjusting their traditional “hitching a ride with nature” to cope with the modern challenges of population growth, climate change, market economies, shortages of land and the threat of plantation monocropping.


If you research or work in areas within the Asia Pacific region where shifting cultivation persists, and your research involves innovation and best practices, the Editor warmly invites you to contribute a paper to the final volume of the trilogy, titled “Farmer Innovations and Best Practices by Shifting Cultivators in Asia-Pacific”.


On Cebu Island of the Philippines, the Naalad system of planting contour rows of soil-building Leucaena leucocephala across swidden fields is a prime example of a farmer innovation in shifting cultivation.

Innovations can be technical innovations such as a system of improved fallow management, barrier technologies to reduce soil erosion in steep swidden fields, new cropping patterns, or just about anything that qualifies as ‘an improvement’. Alternatively, they may be social innovations, such as more effective methods of social fencing, labour arrangements or land tenure.

Guidelines for Paper contributions:

  • should be about 6000 words in length;
  • should be of high quality;
  • do not require an abstract – but definitely do require careful references:
  • should be written in Microsoft Word with image files (e.g maps, graphs, photographs) submitted separately as .jpg files; (But the author’s intended location of the image files should be indicated within the paper).
  • should focus sharply on the theme of farmer innovations and best practices;
  • should focus on or within the Asia-Pacific region;
  • should include a professionally drawn map of the research area;
  • may include several photos that effectively illustrate the paper’s topic, and that look good printed in grey-scale; and
  • should be submitted to the Editor (mfcairns@gmail.com) by July 1st, 2018.

Across Asia’s uplands, many shifting cultivators have learnt the agronomic properties of wild sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia), and often manage it as an improved fallow.

Each submitted paper should be accompanied by a list of three to six of the main plants that impact upon the success, uniqueness, or special features of the system under discussion. Authors are encouraged to list plants other than standard annual crops. We will then commission botanical sketches to be drawn by our in-house artist.

In addition, the Editor welcomes photographic contributions; the guidelines are as follows:

  • should be scanned at a high resolution (at a minimum of 300 dpi);
  • both portrait and landscape-oriented photos are acceptable;
  • should be coloured (exceptional black and white photographs will be considered);
  • should have good composition, be sharply focused and not faded;
  • casual photos, in which the subject is not watching the camera – are far preferred over posed photos;
  • should be saved in .jpg format;
  • should be sent as a direct e-mail attachment to the Editor (mfcairns@gmail.com);
  • should not be embedded in Word, pdf, Powerpoint, or any other type of software file;
  • should clearly show farmers at work in their fields, the closer, the better;
    PLATE 2

    In Nagaland, N.E. India, a Konyak elder warily watches a stranger passing through her village.

  • should probably not show empty fields;
  • photos illustrating farmer innovations are particularly encouraged;
  • should be accompanied by a short note, telling us: the name of the photographer, location, a short explanation of what the photo shows, and the year that it was taken.

The Editor strongly encourages the entire community of researchers and workers working with shifting cultivation in Asia-Pacific to make this volume their own by using it as a powerful platform to publish their research findings and photographs. This ‘common property’ approach will create a much richer volume, of which we can all be proud!

To find out more, download the VOLUME III ANNOUNCEMENT (PDF).